Lynne Kipnis and Nancy Jones wanted women to start the day with a smile on their cheeks. That’s why they launched Pandemic Panties, a weeklong set of undies for a time when the name of the day mattered not. The panties sport such names as What Day, Who Cares Day, Today, This Day, That Day, Another Day and even WTF Day.
Wait a minute? Isn’t “WTF” a bit risqué, even for so-called unmentionables?
Of course not, the women joked: It stands for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
“Who doesn’t need to start each day with a smile or a giggle, or maybe a laugh?” Jones, of Santa Cruz, said during a Zoom interview.
Pandemic Panties grew out of a moment of levity during a Zoom gathering in 2020 — during the difficult, brain-fogging times of early quarantine — when one member of the book group forgot what day it was.
Recalling from girlhood the sets of underpants labeled for each day of the week, longtime friends Kipnis and Jones began brainstorming about what labels they would use in a time when one day of the week blended into another.
Their joking led to a product a few months later.
“We’re both fairly serious people,” said Kipnis, of St. Louis, who volunteers in her local Jewish community and for women’s health projects after more than three decades as a clinical psychologist.
Jones, who used to live in St. Louis, is a career and leadership coach who helps care for her grandchildren; she has a master’s degree in counseling.
Knowing mainly therapy and social work, the women encountered a “steep learning curve [in] learning about selling ourselves,” Kipnis said, and they also had to find a way to produce their product and market it (coming up with the idea was the easy part). They turned to two friends who started STL Style House, a firm that creates hip T-shirts with St. Louis themes.
The panties come in two styles: Hipsters cost $22 for a two-panty weekender and $60 for a seven-day pack; thongs are $25 for the weekender and $55 for a five-day pack.
For their “distribution center,” the women have been using their dining room tables, and Kipnis’ adult children helped the duo set up media accounts and mobile payment options. Jones’ daughter, a professional photographer, did the product shots.
And the research and development committee? “You’re looking at it,” Kipnis said.
The majority of their sales have been gifts, the woman said. One selling point is that half the proceeds benefit charitable and nonprofit organizations: food banks in St. Louis and California, including Second Harvest of Santa Cruz County, and the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to prisoners.
An early purchaser was Julie Kaufman of Atherton, one of Jones’ longtime friends. “I think they’re a delightful, humorous, cheeky (pun intended) idea, and I bought them because of the novelty. But they have turned out to be very comfortable, too,” she said in an email note.
Right now, Jones and Kipnis are gearing up for Mother’s Day, on May 9 this year, but they’re also contemplating the next step: a post-pandemic product name. Cheeky Ladies, Smarty Pants and Fancy Pants have been bandied about.
But the women haven’t settled on anything just yet. “Maybe one of [J.’s] readers will come up with a name,” Jones said. If you have a creative burst, go here and click on “contact” to send in your idea. That’s also where to go for placing an order.